Random Randomness, 4/22/2014

wakata_bahamas

Where everything’s random, until you notice the pattern…

Go Ter-ra, It’s Your Earth Day, It’s Your Earth Day: Today’s the global celebration to remind us how wonderful Earth and its non-sentient inhabitants are and how much better things would be if human beings would just go back to swinging between trees and stop killing baby seals while randomly spewing carbon dioxide everywhere.

Sigh.

Anyhow, despite Anthropomorphic Global Warming, Earth is indeed very cool, and following astronaut Koichi Wakata on Twitter will provide you much photographic evidence, like this picture of the Bahamas he took from the diabolical, human-created International Space Station.

In the Name of the Moon, I Will Punish You!  Hey, what would Earth be without the Moon? Or Sailor Moon? The Moon Animate Make-up! project has gathered over 200 talented animators to create a shot-by-shot re-imagining of an episode from the classic anime, and it’s chock-full of the most brilliantly random animation ever. They’re on track to finish this thing in a couple of months. Here’s a sample (the scene in the YouTube preview window doesn’t look very aesthetically appealing, but give it a chance—there are a ton of different styles and approaches showcased here, from replication of the original to super-deformed satire):

UPDATE: 21 July 2014: And here’s the final product:

 

blutoIf It’s On The Internet, It Must Be True: Here’s a quick example of why a single piece of second-hand information, even from an ostensibly credible, reliable source, is never a good basis for making a judgment about any issue. My Darling Daughter is a college debater, so when I noticed an article about debating posted on political blog PowerLine, I gave it a read. The author and his collaborator are former debaters who view recent trends in this extracurricular activity with a jaundiced eye. The thing is, my daughter, unlike the authors, was present at the events they criticize, knows several of the debaters they held up as evidence that debating has gone to wreck and ruin, and witnessed the debates in question. What the bitter geezers authors fail to capture is the level of self- and peer-review that happens during and after these events and the sophistication these kids bring to the table when analyzing and discussing their work. You don’t just “get away” with offering specious arguments, and anybody who thinks the participants are a monolithic bloc of race warriors, leftist ideologues, or what the authors dismissively term “performance artists,” hasn’t spent much time in their company, and part of the challenge is often having to argue a position they personally disagree with. They grant no mercy to half-baked reasoning anywhere on the political/social spectrum. These are smart, thoughtful young people learning how to navigate complex issues and counter tenacious opponents. There are worse ways to spend your college days.

Turtles All the Way Down: Anybody out there enjoying Cosmos, the reboot of Carl Sagan’s iconic miniseries playing on Fox Network and the National Geographic Channel? I am, most of the time. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is a pleasant host who seems to be having a ball talking about the wonders of the universe and zipping about inner and outer space in his Ship of Imagination. The visuals are breathtaking, and the historical animations are quirky and fun. I just wish the show would lay off slamming religion (ever-so-politely) and taking every opportunity to stereotype Christians as random anti-intellectual Luddites. It spends far too much time and effort debunking Young Earth Creationism and posturing religion as an obstacle to scientific inquiry. C’mon guys, you’ve flashed your Freethinker’s Union card a dozen times now. We get it, already.

cosmosWhat’s amusing is that every time the show encounters something it can’t explain with regard to the origin of life and the universe, it invokes its own statement of faith: “Turtles All the Way Down.” It goes something like this, as cited at the Carnegie Institute for Science cosmology website:

William James, father of American psychology, tells of meeting an old lady who told him the Earth rested on the back of a huge turtle. “But, my dear lady”, Professor James asked, as politely as possible, “what holds up the turtle?” “Ah”, she said, “that’s easy. He is standing on the back of another turtle.” “Oh, I see”, said Professor James, still being polite. “But would you be so good as to tell me what holds up the second turtle?” “It’s no use, Professor”, said the old lady, realizing he was trying to lead her into a logical trap. “It’s turtles-turtles-turtles, all the way!

Rather than acknowledging the problem of infinite regress posed by denying a first cause, Cosmos blithely declares, in essence, “Everything probably created itself, and that is so cool!” then moves on.

How fortunate for us that faith is, apparently, not an obstacle to scientific inquiry.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s